A preacher who once had breakfast with President Bush is at the heart of a ferocious anti-gay movement that has emerged in evangelical churches serving tens of thousands of Slavic immigrants on the West Coast. This aggressive movement is the subject of the cover story of the latest issue of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report.
"The Latvian Connection" recounts a recent gay-bashing murder near Sacramento, Calif., that has drawn attention to the movement primarily led by Alexey Ledyaev, a Latvian megachurch preacher and close friend of Southern Baptist televangelist Pat Robertson who was invited to Bush's National Prayer Breakfast in 2006.
"The gay-bashing virulence of this movement is shocking, as is the way many of its followers aggressively seek out confrontation," said Mark Potok, editor of the Intelligence Report and director of the SPLC's Intelligence Project. "It's precisely this kind of ugly rhetoric that often leads to deadly anti-gay violence."
Fueled in part by Ledyaev's propaganda comparing homosexuality to a "dangerous and contagious disease" that should be "isolated and treated," the movement has mobilized Slavic immigrants for virulent protests in normally gay-friendly cities like Sacramento. It is also being blamed by some for the murder of 26-year-old Satender Singh, who was killed during a confrontation with Russian-speaking immigrants.
"What the gay community has feared for some time has finally happened," Michael Gorman, a gay-rights activist, told the Intelligence Report.
Also in the Fall 2007 issue of the Intelligence Report:
- "Memphis Sewage" takes a hard look at "The Political Cesspool," a Tennessee talk show that has become the new nexus of hate radio in America. The "Cesspool" has featured a "Who's Who" of the radical right. Now, smooth-talking host James Edwards is being hailed by some as the next David Duke.
- A black supremacist organization, the Nation of Yahweh, is showing signs of new life, with wealthy followers in Florida, Texas and Canada predicting the imminent end of white "dominion." "Rebirth of a Nation" explores how this group, which was tied to the murders of at least 14 people in South Florida in the late 1980s, is reemerging even after the death of its long-imprisoned founder.
- "The Big Lie" looks at how white supremacists are twisting the facts of criminal cases to suggest an epidemic of black-on-white hate crime. The murder of a Tennessee couple is the latest example of how they have put their talking points into the mouths of mainstream conservative commentators.
- "The Ravening Wolf" reports on the reemergence of Tony Alamo, founder of a notorious anti-Catholic and anti-gay cult that dates back to 1969. After serving years in prison for tax evasion, Alamo has set up shop in Fouke, Ark., where some residents and former cultists now are organizing against him.